Brandt Snedeker is the most accomplished golfer in Vanderbilt history and it’s really not even debatable. Since turning pro in 2004, the Nashville native has notched eleven professional wins and won the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup in 2012. He’s been ranked as high as #4 in the Official World Golf Ranking.
And yet he’s never won a major. He won’t be winning one this week after withdrawing from the PGA Championship due to an injury that’s kept him out of action since the Travelers Championship in June.
Snedeker is arguably one of the more successful golfers who hasn’t won one. He’s won eight times on the PGA Tour — among active golfers under 50, only Stuart Appleby (with nine) has won more times on tour without winning a major.
He’s also been in contention at a major a few times, with nine top 10 finishes at a major. That’s not exactly Phil Mickelson (who had 17 major top 10s and 22 PGA Tour wins before his 2004 win at Augusta), but it’s quite a few. Most golfers who have been in contention at a major that often will eventually win one. He was in second place entering the final round at the 2008 Masters before a final-round 77 pushed him into a tie for third. At the Open Championship in 2012 — best known for Adam Scott choking away the tournament on the back nine on Sunday — Snedeker led the field after shooting 10-under in the first two rounds. He entered Sunday at Augusta in 2013 tied for the lead but a final-round 75 pushed him into a tie for sixth.
The bad news, though, is that he’ll turn 37 in December — and golfers that age don’t have a great track record in major championships. Sure, Sergio Garcia won his first major at 37 in April, and so did Jimmy Walker at last year’s PGA Championship; but in recent years that’s been the exception and not the rule. Excluding the Open Championship, golfers 37 and over have won just six of the last 47 majors going back to 2001. The Open Championship is a bit different — links-style golf places less of a premium on long drives and thus tends to be more favorable to golf’s elder statesmen — but it’s also been one of the more difficult majors for Snedeker, as he’s only finished in the top 10 once and missed the cut in four of his eight starts there.
What’s more, Snedeker may not be able to count on automatic qualification for majors in the future. He’s already qualified for next year’s U.S. Open, but he’s currently 36th in the OWGR, and if he falls outside of the top 50 he might not get into the other three majors next year. And, obviously, you can’t win if you’re not in the field.
This isn’t to say that Snedeker will never win a major. But time might be running out.